On Christmas day millions of Americans debated whether or not to attend the local church service, or to stay home and spend time with family. Many churches even decided to cancel their services to allow families to spend the special holiday together. For just about everyone in America, regardless of their church attendance, Christmas day came and went like most others – food, family, gifts, and traditions. Meanwhile, around the world, many found out that their decision to attend a Christmas celebration was the difference between life and death:
In Nigeria, about 40 church-goers were killed Christmas morning and dozens of others were wounded during coordinated bombing attacks by a Muslim sect within the country. Struggles between Christians and Muslims in the Nigeria region remain constant and took no reprieve for the Christmas holiday. It is estimated that around 70 church-goers were arrested and detained throughout the course of Christmas day in dozens of churches across the country. In the Iranian town of Ahwaz alone an entire Assembly of God church was reported to have been raided by Iranian officials, arresting and detaining the entire congregation. Five were killed and 15 wounded in an attack early Christmas morning on a congregation in Sudan. Church members were attacked outside the church following their midnight Christmas Eve celebration on the 24th. In Northern Iraq a Christian church was attacked during the Christmas service, wounding four. Church guards prevented the attackers from entering the church, but the ensuing gun battle wounded congregation members
These alone were instances reported by international media outlets from Christmas day, and it is likely that the list is even larger. Countless others were killed and more wounded in non-church related attacks on the 25th in countries including: Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, to name a few.
These reports give the harrowing reminder that thousands around the world receive no reprieve from their struggles over the Christmas holiday. Many the world over are required to worry more about their family’s safety than whether or not they over-spent on Christmas gifts. The world-wide news from Christmas day is humbling evidence that “peace on earth” is a Christmas gift still destined for the future.